SHARING and CARING…it’s what LIFE is all about!

Is the Grass Really Greener?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2012 in Blog, Memories | 2 comments

“We never seem to be satisfied, do we? We always seem to want more.”

A young woman said that to me recently and her comment prompted me to tell her a story. But before I share that same story with you, let me digress for a moment—as I’m in the habit of doing!

I leave tomorrow for a weekend conference where I will be conducting a workshop on memoir writing. As in past workshops, I will teach that a memoir is a true story laid down with the understanding that memory can be faulty, that images fade, that one may have to fill in some of the details where memory or photo albums or journals fail.

So having provided an explanation for my forthcoming embellishment, let me continue…

When my children were young—those wonderful years when I could rest, knowing that all was right with the world because my kids were tucked in bed and fast asleep—my mother came for one of her many visits. On this particular occasion—particular because one of my children wanted to run away from home and live down the street at a friend’s house—I listened, enraptured by the story she was telling my children. I had never heard it before, or at least, I can’t remember hearing it before! What I do remember, though, was her wisdom in how she taught her grandchildren a valuable life lesson.

My mother and my 3 children: Stewart, Jennifer and Bradley, 1974

The story went something like this:

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Johnny. One day Johnny’s mommy found him staring longingly out his bedroom window. Concerned by his quietness, she asked Johnny what was troubling him.

      “I want to live at Billy’s house,” he grumbled, continuing to stare out the window.

      “Why would you want to do that?” she asked, troubled by her six-year-old’s response and unprepared for his adamant reply.

      “Because his windows are made of gold!” he exclaimed, pointing to very distinct gold windows on his friend’s house. “I want to live in a house that has gold windows, not just plain ones like ours!”

No matter how much she tried, Johnny’s mommy could not convince him to stay with her. He was determined to leave home and live in the house with gold windows.

After helping him pack his pyjamas, toothbrush and clean underwear into his new backpack, Johnny’s mommy watched him skip down the middle of the sidewalk. He never looked back, not once, and Johnny’s mommy was very sad.


Johnny was very happy. Now he was going to live in a house with gold windows. He would no longer have to look out plain glass ever again. From now on he would look out bright, shiny windows and he would never need another thing as long as he lived.

Johnny rang the doorbell and waited for his friend to open the door. And then he did something that we often all do when we ring a doorbell and wait: we turn and look back from where we came. When Johnny turned around, he gasped. There, right down the street stood his house. He saw his mother watching him and she was watching him through gold windows! Forgetting he’d rung the doorbell, Johnny ran as fast as he could back down the sidewalk and headed for home where he threw his arms around his mother’s neck and hugged her.

My mother finished the life-lesson with this…

What Johnny failed to realize was that when the morning sun shone its brilliant rays on his friend’s house, it was doing the very same thing on his own! But, he was too close to see that his windows were made of gold, too!

“We never seem to be satisfied, do we? We always seem to want more.” Interesting thought, isn’t it? Sometimes the grass does seem greener on the other side of the fence and sometimes we do struggle with discontentment and frustration, maybe even envy. Sometimes we get caught up in the haves and the have-nots of this world and want to run away from home, just like Johnny.

I suppose, in truth, we can all be like Johnny at times; but the important thing is that we turn around and look at what we have and run back with deliberate gusto to embrace it.




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  1. The Other Ruth

    Another great story Ruth!

    • Ruth Waring

      Welcome to my blog, Ruth. So nice to see your name…and thanks for the comment. Remembering it and then writing it brought back wonderful memories of my mother and her interaction with our children. She lived with us for ten years while I was having the kids. Amazing woman!

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